Diocesan pilgrims spend a day with Jesus on Chicago trip

By: By Jennifer Willems

CAPTION: Father Anthony Bus, CR, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago, welcomes those taking part on a pilgrimage sponsored Sept. 15 by the Bishop’s Commission on Women in the Church and in Society. (More photos have been posted on The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.)


CHICAGO — Pilgrimages come in many shapes and sizes, but at their core they are all designed to allow people to spend time with Jesus. More than 50 women and men did just that recently by traveling to Chicago to pray and honor his Blessed Mother.

The inaugural bus pilgrimage sponsored by the Bishop’s Commission on Women in the Church and in Society took place on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows and was “a beautiful day of fellowship and prayer,” according to Deena Pavinato of Oglesby, commission chair.

“It gave us the opportunity to see beautiful churches and listen to stories of how God guided the establishment or direction of the ministries of the churches we visited,” she told The Catholic Post. “It was a time to meet new people and for me, as I have heard from others, a time to step away from our daily lives to listen more deeply to God’s direction in my life.”

Father David Whiteside, the spiritual director for the Bishop’s Commission on Women, started the day by asking the pilgrims to remember that whether they came on the trip seeking personal conversion and growth in their relationship with God or for a private reason known only to them, surprises were in store.

“Things don’t always go as planned,” he said. “That’s OK. We’re on God’s time.”

The first of many prayer opportunities came right away as they dedicated the day to Mary by praying the rosary. Father Whiteside said there is no greater intercessor and since they would be visiting two of her shrines, “we want her guidance.”

The group was not able to have Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows, as originally planned, due to the funeral of Father Peter M. Rookey, OSM, founder of the International Compassion Ministry. The pilgrims would instead visit the basilica for individual prayer on the way home to the Diocese of Peoria.

It was another church dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, Santa Maria Addolorata, that welcomed them for a Mass concelebrated by Father Whiteside and Father Gary Blake. In addition to having pastoral care for the Bishop’s Commission on Women, Father Whiteside is pastor of St. Patrick in Havana and Immaculate Conception in Manito, while Father Blake is pastor of Holy Family in Oglesby and Sts. Peter and Paul in Leonore.

The Scalabrian Fathers have staffed Santa Maria Addolorata for more than 100 years, ministering to Italian immigrants first and now Spanish-speaking Catholics. Father Gino Dalpiaz, CS, associate pastor, told the pilgrims that we are all migrants, however, “because this beautiful earth is not our home. We’re just passing through. . . . You are citizens of heaven.”

Perhaps the high point of the day was the visit to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Dominating the interior of the church is an iconic monstrance known as Our Lady of the Sign-Ark of Mercy, which was sculpted by Stefan Niedorezo and painted by Malgorzata Sawczuk.

The church’s consecration to Mary came as the result of the discernment of longtime pastor, Father Anthony Bus, CR, as he was preparing to consecrate his priesthood to the Blessed Mother.

“Our Lady has manifested herself in so many beautiful ways” since then, he told the pilgrims from central Illinois. That includes spiritual and physical healings, success in renovating the interior of the church and replacing the ceiling, as well as protection for the building, which is never locked.

During their visit, the pilgrims took time for individual prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation before praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
While some of them were still considering what they were taking away from the day, Cathy Goetsch of St. Mary in Utica said the pilgrimage brought her much closer to the Blessed Mother. “St. Stanislaus and the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy melted my heart.”

The Bishop’s Commission on Women is still taking registrations for its pilgrimage to the “Shrines and Saints of Spain and Portugal,” which is scheduled for April 18-27, 2015. The cost is $3,090. For more information, contact Pavinato at dpavinato@att.net or Tekton Ministries at pilgrimage@tektonministries.org or (866) 905-3787.

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